Al and Dean are two old friends and neighbors who live across the street from one another. Every so often, they’ll get into a little discussion over things. What follows is one of their more recent conversations.
Al: I got a question for you.
Al: Let’s say you’re in your house and you’ve got a problem with your pipes. And on the matter you have the option of consulting a plumber, a tailor or a zookeeper.
Al: To whom would you be most inclined to listen?
Dean: The plumber.
Al: The plumber, right? Me too. But wait, let’s say the zookeeper came in afterwards, just as you were about to get to work, and said “Ahhhhh. Pay no attention to what the plumber says. It’s all a bunch of mumbo jumbo.” Just to be sure, you consult more plumbers, and they all pretty much agree on what’s causing the problem. Yet still, that zookeeper remains steadfast in his opinion. Who would you be most likely to believe?
Dean: The plumbers.
Al: Me too. But wait, how do you know that the plumbers aren’t just nickle-and-diming you, cheating you, bamboozling you? I mean, they would say there is a problem, right? A pipe problem is good business for them after all, right? They can turn a profit and make some money from the problem.
Dean: I suppose that’s possible, but I figured that was part of the reason I consulted more than one plumber.
Dean: If they arrive at the same consensus, then there’s little chance they’re trying to trick me and more than likely, they’re just doing their job. More than likely, the simplest explanation is the right one.
Al: Cool, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Dean: Well that’s why you have me.
Al: Too true. So now let’s say that in today’s current world, that an overwhelming majority of scientists across the world arrived at a consensus which acknowledges that climate change is happening, that it’s caused by human activity, and that it’s changing the planet in a way that is less hospitable to human beings.
Now, mind you, I’m not saying that it is the reality, but let’s just say that it was.
Anyway, scientists around the world arrived at this consensus, and not long after, we began hearing from politicians and businessmen around the world who said ‘Ahhhhh. Pay no attention to what those scientists said. It’s all a bunch of mumbo jumbo.’
Now, if that were the situation, who would you be inclined to believe? Let me ask you this. Historically, who has a better reputation for trustworthiness? Scientists, or politicians and businessmen?
Dean: Let’s just say I would trust the scientists.
Al: I would too. Cool.
Al: But wait! How do you know those scientists are even telling you the truth? How do you know they aren’t cheating you, bamboozling you? I mean, they would say there is a problem, right? That puts the spotlight on them after all, and they so are likely to turn a profit, right?
Al: What do you mean?
Dean: Well for one thing, like in the situation with the plumber, that’s part of the reason why you would consult more than one scientist. If they seem to arrive at the same consensus, then there’s little chance they’re trying to trick me and more than likely, they’re just doing their job, as the simplest explanation remains the right one.
Dean: But even more so, scientists have been and remain anchored in their work by fact. They work to establish objective truths. That’s what they do, and have always done, for societies. That’s why they exist. And so they aren’t beholden to private motivations or opinions, unlike politicians and businessmen.
Al: So now that we’ve ironed out those hypotheticals, I can say here and now that I’ve accepted the fact of climate change indeed happening and being caused by human activity, as it is the scientific consensus of the planet.
Since we have just ironed out those hypothetical conditions, the only possible remaining point of contention between us–the only thing we can possibly debate at this point–is whether or not it is in fact the scientific consensus that climate change is real and being caused by human activity.
And to that point, I will provide for you now a list of sources who agree that our climate is changing due to human activity, and that it’s changing the planet in a way that is less hospitable to human beings. Afterward, if you are still so inclined, please feel free to do your own research using the same deductive reasoning we have here established. (Below these links are additional resources to take action)
American Meteorological Society (AMS)
Climate at the National Academies
The Geological Society of America (GSA)
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Chemical Society (ACS)
American Physical Society (APS)
Fourth National Climate Assessment
Climate at the National Academies
Australian Government – Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
Climate Change Adaptation: What Federal Agencies Are Doing
International Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, Summary for Policymakers (2014)
*Resources to Take Action
Join and Donate to the Sierra Club
Guides to Taking Action in Our Everyday Lives